on beauty (for lily)

On my previous post ('backstage: the pretty girl'), I mentioned 'the models and the non-models', and said I'd be doing posts on them, too, as they have a beauty all their own. And then I got this comment from Lily, which I'm quoting in its entirety:

"To be honest, I'm rather disappointed that your 'Pretty Girl' looks so typical. Yes, she's very pretty, but she's also white, blonde, and blue-eyed. 

 Where's the dark-skinned girl with stunning almond-shaped eyes, who grew up being told that she wasn't pretty because she *wasn't* white, blonde, or blue-eyed? And who realized that she was stunningly beautiful anyway, on her own terms? I'd rather see her."

So, Lily, this post - which, uncannily, was part of the series that I'd alluded to - is for you.

I'm so interested in this concept of perfection in beauty (that 'blonde, blue eyed, white' stereotype) that I wrote a novel based in part around that theme, which I'm adapting - as we speak - into a screenplay. There are so many beauties - in terms of that colouring, those 'perfect' features - born every day in Scandinavia, Holland, Estonia, Eastern Europe, Russia.. it's no big deal there. And each culture's concept of beauty is so vastly different, anyway.. the idea that in places like Japan, the beautiful Japanese woman often wants to be more Western.. I agree, Lily. The most beautiful women - and men - in my eyes, have as often been Asian, or Black, or any blend, long as - I'm cringing as I"m typing this, but I'm going to have to say it anyway - their beauty radiates from within.

Even thinking of any 'beauties' in recent years, the past half century.. Jackie Kennedy, while she was just a girl, graduated from Vassar, applying for an internship at Vogue (which she won - and turned down to be a 'girl about town' in DC with a camera, meeting the young Senator Kennedy) described her face as so imperfect - her eyes so wide she had to be fitted with special sunglasses .. or Twiggy. I mean, bless her cotton socks, she was no one's idea of pretty, at the time. Even Kate Moss, who I read recently that someone described her face as being the 'perfect proportions', beauty wise, has her uneven smile, her wonky teeth.. I think of models like Alek Wek, Fei Fei Sun, my god is she gorgeous, the first Chinese model on the cover of Vogue Italia..

The most beautiful women I've met and shot - models or otherwise - have not fit that stereotype. Leomie is one that comes to mind.

I could go on and on - and I hope to - but I'll stop, for now. Of the backstage shots I'm showing here, only one was a model in the show, and I'll show you tomorrow who that was. The other were simply beautiful women involved with fashion, just not on the catwalk.

Can you guess which one of these women is the model? Answers revealed in my next post.

Okay, one last thing - I guess I'm on a roll now. I think of Charlize Theron, a great big amazonian blonde beauty, classic Dutch/French Huguenot descent, white South African, who has tossed away her beauty (albeit temporarily) for roles like Monster.

She did an excellent film called Young Adult.  I feel it was the most courageous film a beauty like her could ever make. Not because of any violence, or car chases (altho, come to think of it, there was a car crash), but because she had the courage to play a flawed human being: a girl so used to trading on her beauty that she could afford to be cruel. And then, she wasn't the prom queen anymore, and her looks started to fade. And what do you do then, when you're not beautiful inside? 


Lily said...

This is a wonderful post - and the girls are beautiful, beautiful. (How I wish I had the guts to shave my head!) I loved what you wrote too, and want to thank you for taking the photos and writing the words.


ODYSSEY said...

Here, proof that there are all kinds of beauty.
Well done, Jill. Beautiful ladies here. The first image...she is especially striking!

jill said...

Thank you both!
And Lily- so I can find you again - if you'd like, drop me an email: jill@haybooks.com

Dashing off - more to come! Happy Birthday, beautiful Odyssey!! xox

Hummingbird Girl said...

What a lovely pictures !


Alyssa said...

This is a wonderful post. I stand by that Beauty is in the of the beholder. All of us have different concept of beauty :) That girl with a shaved head is gorgeous. Only few have guts to shave their hair and pull it off